Social Distancing? Curfews? A Pandemic?
Given the CDC’s most recent recommendations to limit social interactions and stay at home as much as possible, I can’t be the only one wondering how this is going to impact mental health and the level of violence survivors experience day to day. Therapists often recommend using social support systems and engaging in hobbies outside of work in order to improve or maintain mental health. In a time period when isolation and limited interaction is key for slowing down the spread of disease, how can community members continue prioritize safety?
First, I want to limit the spread of misinformation through media. The most accurate sources of information at this time are through the CDC’s website: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.htmlor the NJ DOH page: https://www.nj.gov/health/.
I can imagine that many survivors and families will be placed in difficult and even painful situations given school, work, and various business changes. DASACC Counselors want to share with you our top tips for safety planning with interpersonal violence during this time:
If you or a loved one are in immediate danger, please call 911.
Keep your phone on and charged at all times.
Be aware of safe exit strategies in your own home.
Keep a spare set of keys within reach. Park your car backed into the driveway and keep a full tank of gas in it. If necessary, keep spare clothing, children’s needs, cash, and copies of important documents in a to-go bag in a hidden space.
Create a code word to text with trusted friends or family that signals to them that you are in danger and need help.
Create a safety plan with your children by developing a code word that signals they should leave the house and go to a trusted neighbor.
Keep copies of important legal documents such as; financial documents, identification, evidence of past abuse or restraining orders, medical records, and names of witnesses or important phone numbers.
When violence occurs inside your home: lead abusers away from children or vulnerable adults, avoid the kitchen which has hard surfaces and possible weapons, avoid the bathroom which has hard surfaces and limited escape routes, avoid garages which has possible weapons, and avoid upstairs rooms which have no safe escape route. Leave the home as soon as possible and lock car doors if able to flee by car.
Prepare for children’s or pet’s needs by storing spare supplies in an easy to access bag.
If you are experiencing harassment or stalking; keep documentation of incidents, change up your daily routine and daily route by changing the time you leave your house and use alternate routes, change any scheduled appointments, and buy a prepaid phone, if possible.
As DASACC’s Mental Health Counselor, I feel that it is also my duty to share tips for maintaining mental wellness given the confinement of your home. I’ve pulled together resources that are beneficial for children, families, and single adults alike to take advantage of social distancing time. I’ve included resources at the bottom of the page for anyone experiencing thoughts of suicide, especially living in such a stressful and uncertain environment.
Clean or organize your home: having a physically clean space can improve mental health and mood!
Call a friend or family member you’ve been meaning to catch up with. We all can be there to support each other, and this helps provide the reassurance you need to feel like you aren’t alone.
Practice mindfulness or relaxations skills. Given the stress of this pandemic, we can all use 5 minutes of meditation, deep breathing, or mindful coloring (kid friendly!) to check back in with what our bodies need. Guided mindfulness activities can be found at: https://students.georgiasouthern.edu/counseling/resources/self-help/relaxation-and-stress-management/ Print out coloring pages can be found at: https://topcoloringpages.net/
Get some fresh air by taking a walk outside. This can have mental and physical health benefits to give your body what it needs to stay strong.
Take time to do something you enjoy; cook your favorite meal, play a board game with family, or even read a book that has been collecting dust on your shelf.
Take breaks from social media and discussions about the pandemic. Repeatedly exposing yourself to news, social media, and information about COVID-19 can be stressful and increase anxiousness.
Take care of your body; practicing proper eating and sleeping habits with keep your body and mind strong.
If you are looking for more information on ways to manage the stress of this pandemic visit: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/managing-stress-anxiety.html?CDC_AA_refVal=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cdc.gov%2Fcoronavirus%2F2019-ncov%2Fabout%2Fcoping.html
Domestic Violence crisis hotlines continue to be available for survivors of interpersonal violence whose safety is at risk and who need to alter their own safety plan with a professional.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline can be reached 24/7 at 1-800-799-7233 or if you are unable to speak over the phone text LOVEIS to 22522.
DASACC’s Crisis line continues to operate to link survivors to counselors or provide confidential shelter and can be reached at (908) 453-4181. DASACC’s shelter currently provides shelter to survivors, their children, and their pets.
Mental health crisis hotlines continue to be available if you or a loved one experience a mental health crisis and are in need of support.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) can be reached 24/7 at 1-800-626-4357.
Warren County’s Family Guidance Center Crisis line provides immediate stabilization services and can be reached 24/7 at (908) 454-5141.
For youth experiencing emotional or behavioral crisis, Mobile Response and Stabilization Services offers crisis intervention and can be reached 24/7 at 1-877-652-7624.
If you are unable to speak over the phone you can text HOME to 741741.
The Division of Child Protection and Permanency continues to respond to concerns about child abuse and neglect. If you are aware of any child experiencing abuse or neglect, please call their hotline available 24/7 at 1-877-NJ-ABUSE (652-2873).